As a builder of new home communities, I like to think that the people who move into our homes will enjoy safe lives. Of course, no one can control that, even in a gated community. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Canadians in general are secure in the knowledge that when the unexpected happens in life, they can count on professionals to help. I’m speaking of our police and fire services, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.

At The Heron Group and Heathwood Homes, we’re great supporters of the people who work in these public services. Although no society is perfect, ours is comfortable partially because of the work these dedicated individuals and teams do on a daily basis.

During the past few years, Heathwood and Heron have made special efforts to help people feel more secure across the Greater Toronto Area and to show support for our police officers, EMS workers and firefighters. We’ve done it through The Mikey Network.


In 2002, we saw first-hand how tragedy can strike when you least expect it. Our partner and friend, Mike Salem, experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) on a golf course and died. We founded The Mikey Network in his name to promote heart-healthy living and to place public-access defibrillators called MIKEYs in public places. Since 2003, we’ve placed nearly $1 million worth of MIKEYs — and we couldn’t do it without the help of our community partners such as EMS. As part of the Toronto EMS Cardiac Safe City program, they provide the training for the onsite staff to use the defibrillators. In 2006, The Mikey Network donated two mountain bicycles and a rescue cart, each equipped with a MIKEY, to Toronto EMS to be used in life-saving efforts in crowded public places where full-size vehicles can’t easily get through.

The police and firefighters are also partners who are often on the scene when the MIKEYs are in use, and who help us achieve our goals.

It’s about caring for each other as human beings and doing what we can to help. Each and every one of us can take steps to make our homes safer and to pay attention to what’s going on around us. We’re all part of the team.